We've been talking about some of the early habits that took me on my journey into cooking in part 1. I told you how it was the early habit of watching cooking videos and shows, that really helped me understand the basics of cooking at a very young age and inspired me to start my own experiments in the kitchen. What I didn't tell you was that many years later, I would find one voice that would teach me so much through video. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the cook or the show, probably because my mother-in-law and I simply called her "the French lady". She was sweet, eloquent, and her recipes were so warm, cozy and down to Earth, Not the traditional and super elevated French style of cooking, but a rustic combination of ingredients, textures and a way of plating that always reminded me of being in the country with friends over a large wooden table, filled with delicious food. Now that I think of it, her style and recipes were probably all about Provençal cuisine, which is much more homey in nature.
I fell in love with this way of cooking and serving food, where it's all about the flavors, colors and textures, and much of the formality of dining is just tossed out the window, and what you're left with is a friendly way of cooking and enjoying the food. I had watched countless videos and shows, and I'm still a fan of many of them, but I distinctly remember setting an alarm on my phone to watch "the French lady". The reason I'm telling you about her is that in order to find your way back into the kitchen and love it, you sometimes need a little guidance, but that voice you choose is so important. It should resonate with who you are and the way you want your time in the kitchen to be. In our videos at brownble, I want to show you my way of loving the time you spend in the kitchen, how simple, delicious vegan food really is, and how homey and comforting you can make it.
I want to teach you how to do it, the way I learned to do it, but if my style isn't your style, by all means, I want you to find the voice that makes you want to jump off the couch and into the kitchen with mere excitement.
Part of the reason why we're getting so unhealthy as a society, is the fact that we've started using our oven for storage, and we've stepped out of the kitchen for food. My dream for all of you is that we find a way to get back in there, and whip up our favorites with healthy whole plant foods, whether that is through my videos or your very own "French lady".
If I think about that rustic country style way of cooking, I have to tell you about the man that really made a huge impact on my cooking and in my life, my uncle (and best friend/kind of dad figure/big brother), Aly Sujo. Aly was the best cook I've ever met. He made the best gravy and mashed potatoes, and the most unbelievable potato latkes (recipe coming soon just in time for the holidays!). He would rock anything he made, and he would cook in the craziest most disorganized and fun way. None of his plates matched and we usually grabbed the food right from the stove, plopped it on a plate and headed outside to eat sitting on a tree stump, or by a fire. He passed away when he was way too young, but the last time I saw him, he made me scrambled eggs (this was in my pre-vegan days) in a huge cast iron pan, straight over a fire in the middle of the woods.
Food is so much more than the high-end ingredients or fancy kitchen gadgets you own. Food to me is also not about the animal-based ingredients that I once used to cook and don't anymore. Food is about the time shared with people. Those small glimpses of magical moments like making breakfast on a fire under a tree, or dumping fire-roasted veggies on a huge serving platter and have everyone dig in forgetting all etiquette but with a huge smile on their faces. It's not about the bacon, or the kobe beef, and it's not about the brussels sprouts either. It's about injecting who you are into a meal shared together. Vegetables however, have this very special way of injecting life and color into the table. All you need to do to see this, is go to a farmer's market and feel the smile creep up with the endless possibilities around you.
I cannot end this post without mentioning two of the incredible mentors that really helped me take my cooking to a whole other level after becoming vegan. Non other than the incredibly talented Heather Bell and Jenny Engel of Spork Foods (we'll be talking about them soon on the blog). Suffice it to say their cooking inspires me daily, partly because of their beautiful way of teaching and talking about food. I of course also need to mention my teachers and mentors at Rouxbe cooking school, who really pushed me hard into understanding advanced techniques, and inspired me to practice every single day until my little fingers were numb from chopping. To them, my mother, the French lady, Aly, the cooking shows that have inspired me, and all the cookbook authors that "sit" on my shelves, I owe everything!
I hope my journey inspires you to start your very own adventures in the kitchen. It's such a magical place!